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Greek Yogurt with Quince and Honey > recipe October 29, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Recipes.
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2 quinces
3 cups water
1 cup sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 cup honey
Orange peel
3 clove spears
4 tbsp Greek halva, optional
2 cups Greek yogurt

Peel quince and cut into rectangular batons.
Add quince to water in a pot with sugar, cinnamon, 1/4 cup honey, orange peels and clove spears. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for an hour and remove cloves and cinnamon sticks.
Scoop two dollops of yogurt on each plate, spoon quince and juice on top. Add honey and finish with a couple sprinkles of halva if you wish.

Quince > This yellow-skinned fruit looks and tastes like a cross between an apple and a pear. The hard flesh is quite dry and has a tart flavor, which makes it better cooked than raw. Quinces are available in supermarkets from October through December. Select those that are large, firm and yellow with little or no sign of green. Wrap in a plastic bag and refrigerate for up to two months.
Greek Halva > Halva is a sweet confection of ground sesame seed and honey, often with the addition of chopped dried fruit and nuts. It’s available wrapped in bars or in tins as a whole piece.


Tomato and Fetta baked shrimp > recipe October 29, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Recipes.
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4 tbs. Greek extra virgin olive oil (preferably Cretan or Kalamata oil)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 shallots, peeled and sliced
20 jumbo shrimp, peeled, de-veined
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
2 cups tomato sauce
2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried Greek oregano
2 tbsp. white distilled vinegar
Salt and pepper
1 cup Greek fetta cheese
1/2 cup water (or chicken stock)
4 tbsp. toasted bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
In a large sautee pan, add 2 tbs of olive oil, chopped garlic and shallots and sautee until brown. Add shrimp and quickly sear on both sides. Add cherry tomatoes, tomato sauce, stock, herbs, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.
Transfer the shrimp, 5 each, into individual baking crocks. Spoon sauce over the shrimp and crumble feta cheese over that. Transfer crocks to oven and bake for 5 minutes or until they bubble.
Remove from oven and place on serving plates. Finish with olive oil and top with toasted bread crumbs.

Fetta Cheese > A classic Greek cheese traditionally made from sheep’s or goat’s milk, though today large Greek commercial producers often use cow’s milk. White, crumbly and rindless, fetta is usually pressed into square cakes.

Dried Fruit Salad > recipe October 29, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Recipes.
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1 cup dried dates
1 cup dried apricots
½ cup yellow raisins
1 cup walnuts
1 bag mixed baby greens
1 and 1/2 cups red wine vinegar
2 shallots peeled
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp dried thyme
3 tbsp honey
2 cups of canola oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup grated white soft cheese, like ricotta insalata or parmigiano reggiano

Dice the dates and apricots. Set aside in a bowl with the raisins and walnuts.
To make the vinaigrette: blend together vinegars, shallots, mustard, thyme and honey in a food processor or blender. Once it’s blended, add oil with motor running. Blend until emulisified. Reserve.
To assemble; put the greens in the bowl with the fruit and nuts, dress with vinaigrette and toss to cover. Distribute evenly among plates and top with cheese.

Chef Goes Greek October 29, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Taste World.
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Chef Michael Psilakis grew up in a traditional Greek family, complete with big parties and lots of food. At his two Manhattan restaurants, Onera and Dona, he puts his own inventive twist on Greek cuisine. 

As the eldest son in a traditional, first-generation Greek family on Long Island, N.Y., Chef Psilakis was destined to embody the hospitality and appreciation for food so highly valued by his party-loving family. “Fun” in the Psilakis household often meant gatherings of up to 30 or 40 guests, during which the young Michael ran drink orders, refilled trays and helped with the cooking

He was the first member of his family to go to college where, to please his father, he earned a degree in accounting and finance. After college and a short career as a waiter, he bought a trattoria, christened it Ecco, and one day, when the chef didn’t show up for work, Psilakis had no choice but to step in. A year later, with Psilakis in the kitchen, Ecco received a two-star rating from the New York Times.

The opening of Onera allowed Michael to return to Greek-inspired cuisine. But he was still busy managing the eatery and he missed simply cooking. That dream came true when his friend, restaurateur Donatella Arpaia, asked him to become executive chef at her new restaurant, Dona. He accepted and began crafting a menu that celebrates the bounty of Southern Europe. Esquire magazine has named Dona one of the best new restaurants in the U.S. for 2006.

Related Links > http://www.oneranyc.com 

Burger stop goes Greek October 29, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Taste World.
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Carla Martino doesn’t want Nevada’s Carson City to think of her restaurant as just another burger joint. The Italian-American decided to make a market switch to Greek. Juicy’s of Carson City is now Paniphias Grill, headed by Greek cook Daniel Demetriou.

Martino and co-owner Kevin Burns are investing about $50,000 to make the burger stop a sit-down restaurant with a line of Greek food. Some of the additions, such as lamb and chicken gyros, start this week. The 2000 N. Carson St. restaurant will shut down for about 10 days in January for the kitchen and dining room renovations.

The restaurant has been Juicy’s since 1985, she said. Martino bought it in 1998. The restaurant is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. On Wednesday, 10 percent of proceeds will be donated to Carson High School.

Lessons in love October 29, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Cyprus.
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After success on the London stage, Manoramo Charms, a play about relationships will be staged in Nicosia next week

A young girl sits quietly in her room as she pours her thoughts into a book she is writing. Suddenly everything changes and the audience is transported into a completely different world as the mystical Manoramo Charms Cafe awakens. This is the performance that received rave reviews when it premiered in London last June, and was hailed “a brand new type of play” by Time Out London.

Manoramo Charms is staged by XO theatre Nova, the innovative company which emerged on the London scene in 2002 and has since developed a unique style, so far staging four successful productions at fringe theatres around London. The company now comes to Cyprus for the first time, as director and writer Xenia Orphanides explains that her work will always draw her back to her homeland.

“I’ve shown my plays to big audiences in London but I’m so much more nervous about bringing it here,” she admitted. Why, I have to ask? “Well, there will be people I know in the audience and I’m scared that some may not be ready for such a gritty tale. I’m bringing something completely new to Cyprus. I think the younger generation is ready for it and I hope those a little older will be open to it too.”

On stage the play brings to life two very different worlds. One is magical, mythical, and dangerous. The other is amid a story of love that treads lightly and can fall apart at any given moment. As the performance begins the main character, Lana, with high aspirations and the determination to change things, starts to write a book. Immersed in the private world of her bedroom, the characters in the book suddenly jump to life and take over the story. “This symbolises a clash between the inner and outer world of the protagonist,” Xenia explains. As the three eccentric characters transport us to Manoramo Charms Cafe, Lana loses complete control. We then jump to another world where we see the relationship of Lana and Jason (another of the protagonists): both wanting the same thing, but never able to reach each other or touch the dream they are after. Lana is faced with a struggle, and for the first time in her life she’s asking what is real.

The style of the play is poetic with the use of rhythm and movement creating other dimensions while a simple story is being told. As the actors fuse together a performance full of colour, the audience is transported into a mysterious and almost surreal world, awakening dark secrets that can cause a stir. Some of the influences come from Ancient Greek theatre as Xenia explained, “we try and add a certain magic to our plays, where we focus on the supernatural, symbols and power.” While symbolisms and meanings run deep, the set on the other hand is very simple. “I don’t believe in lavish sets because I feel that all the fuss diverts attention from what’s actually happening. When there’s not much in the background the audience is forced to concentrate on even the smallest silences as they take on new meaning,” she said.

Likening the work to animated fine art, Xenia explained that she wants the audience to awaken their senses, be inspired and even dream in different ways. “When one looks at Van Gogh’s Sunflower or Edward Munch’s The Scream, these paintings might say something to the eye, but they touch depths that tell endless stories on other levels, as they take you on a journey to the unknown.” Focusing particularly on the lack of communication in relationships, this upcoming performance touches on many human truths. “It’s touching raw subjects of a woman lost and trying to find herself, power and how one can control a relationship in the wrong way. It’s also about how love can be misinterpreted and made negative. Love should be free and positive, it’s not about being a slave to it.”

Describing the play as a type of “black comedy” the audience should prepare for a performance that’s humorous and entertaining, but with a darker side. “This is the type of play that will definitely leave you with questions. I want the mind and imagination to run wild.”

Manoramo Charms > Written and directed by Xenia Orphanides. November 8, 9, 10. Melina Mercouri Hall, Nicosia. 7.30pm. www.xotheatrenova.co.uk. Tel: 24 61111. In English.

The queen of Cuban music October 29, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Live Gigs.
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The Buena Vista Social Club returns with two concerts and a new soloist

Think of the exotic land of Cuba and what does your mind drift to first? Beautiful classic cars? Tall palms trees lining stretches of white sandy beaches? Old men smoking cigars as they sit beside brightly coloured colonial buildings? There’s so much to capture the imagination. Then there are those slightly run down, back street bars where music blares out as dim lighting exposes the elderly sipping on their rum.

It was in this land of infectious appeal that the legendary Buena Vista Social Club was born. The origins of the club lie with American master guitarist Ry Cooder, who travelled to Havana for recording sessions with musicians from Africa whom he was supposed to meet there. When they didn’t show up, he looked for local talent in Havana as an alternative. What he found was a generation of nearly forgotten musicians whose performing careers largely ended decades earlier.

He recruited guitarists and singers including Ibrahim Ferrer, Compay Segundo, Eliades Ochoa and pianist Ruben Conzalez. The result was the Grammy award-winning album The Buena Vista Social Club, which in turn began a craze for Cuban music internationally. During a return to Havana in 1998, recording sessions were captured on film and resulted in a documentary about the Buena Vista Social Club that earned an Academy Award nomination in 2000.

The Buena Vista Social Club presenting Ibrahim Ferrer enthralled audiences in Cyprus in October 2004. Despite the sad death of the band’s front man last year, the other members continue to do what they love the most just as Ferrer would have wished. Due to public demand Alma Productions once again brings us the legendary group, this time presenting Cuban superstar Omara Portuondo. This flamboyant leading lady of Buena Vista Social Club, described as Cuba’s very own Edith Piaf, will be thrilling audiences in Nicosia on November 8 and 9.

Omara was born in Havana in October 1930. As in any Cuban household, music played a very important role, and although they didn’t have money for a gramophone, Omara’s parents were always singing in the kitchen as they went about their daily lives. These were her first informal singing lessons and their favorite songs like ‘La Bayamesa’ remain in her repertoire today. As she grew up she began to sing American jazz standards with her older sister Haydee, a dancer at the famous cabaret Tropicana. In 1959 she released her first solo album, Maria Negra.

Ry Cooder met Omara at the Egrem Studios in 1995 and immediately invited her to sing the bolero ‘Veinte Anos’ with Compay Segundo for the Buena Vista Social Club Sessions. This went on to become one of the highlights of the album. There’s a profound moment in Wim Wenders’ documentary, Buena Vista Social Club, when Omara and Ferrer have just finished singing the heartbreakingly beautiful ‘Silencio’.

The song says, “if the flowers in her garden see her sadness they will surely wither and die…” As they take the applause, a tear forms in Omara’s eye. Ibrahim removes his handkerchief from his pocket and gently wipes away the tear. This stands as Wenders’ favourite scene for the way it captures all the romance of Cuban music in a single frame.

With her passionate and moving voice, Omara has been thrilling audiences in the cabarets and nightspots of Havana and has become a deeply beloved figure in Cuban music for years. Yet, like Ferrer, she had to wait until the Buena Vista Social Club album to enjoy wider international recognition and acclaim. She was, in fact, the only female artist on the 1997 Grammy-winning Buena Vista Social Club album.

Today Omara lives in a high-rise apartment just off the Malecon in Havana with magnificent views over the sea. Going on regular tours, audiences worldwide respond rapturously to her irresistible stage presence and vocal prowess as she receives rave reviews. The Scotland on Sunday named her “one of the world’s truly great divas” and The Daily Telegraph said, “Omara Portuondo is a true Cuban icon” and “her voice is note perfect and beltingly powerful”.

The concerts in Cyprus are part of her current world tour, where she is joined by the magnificent band of master Cuban musicians, which includes strings, brass, percussion, guitars and background vocals. Audiences will be able to hear part of Omara’s latest Grammy award winning album Flor de Amor (Flower of Love) as well as celebrated songs such as ‘Pensamiento’, ‘Palabras’, and ‘Desafios’. The genre of the concert can be described as a fascinating mixture of Cuban version of the bossa nova, jazz, Latin American and African rhythms, blues and many others all fused together.

Omara is certainly in her element while performing live, and with her gloriously flamboyant stage presence winning over international audiences, she will surely do the same in the Cyprus. Her words sum it all up: “It’s because if I’m singing and in a given moment I say I’m in love, I must feel it and show it, because if I don’t, it will all seem very empty and false.” Let the light shine bright on Omara, and let us fall deeply in love with her mesmerising voice.

Omara Portuondo > The legendary, ‘The Queen of Cuban Song’. November 8 and 9. Nicosia Municipal Theatre. 8.30pm. £15, £20, £25 and £30. For more info Tel: 25 563231 or for tickets call 96 842538. For additional information  www.almaproductions.net or www.interticket.com.cy